School district needs input, too
A series of public meetings regarding the Baldwin School Board's long-range plans has been informative, but not well attended.
The first of the meetings was Thursday at Vinland Elementary School. Monday night the session was at Marion Springs Elementary and the final meeting was Tuesday night at Baldwin Elementary.
"So far, I've been a little disappointed with the attendance," said Supt. James White Tuesday. "The folks that have attended have raised good questions and points of interest."
The board's plan calls for a $7.9 million bond election this fall which would be used to construct a new pre-kindergarten through second grade or third grade through fifth grade building, among other items.
The second bond election would be in the fall of 2006 for another $4.6 million for additional district improvements. In the fall of 2010 would be another bond election for $10 million which would be used to build a new middle school. (Complete details can be found in a chart on page A-5.)
Those that have attended the informative sessions have liked the plan, said White.
"Overall, the people have been very favorable to the plan," he said. "There have been some questions raised about the K-2 and 3-5 instead of one school. Parking has also come up at the high school, junior high, Vinland and Marion Springs.
"Vinland is already out of room and waiting for three years to reach 125 students (as detailed in the plan) might be too late. There was some concern about space at Marion Springs with storage. If we do storage out there like we're talking about, there would be parking problems and there are already parking problems out there," said White.
The biggest plus from the sessions has been the ability to show people that this fall's bond issue will not increase taxes. Because of refinancing the district's current debt with a lower interest rate and other factors, the $8 million necessary for the new elementary building won't raise the mill levy from its present 13.3.
"That's good. To be able to show people we have this ability is great," he said. "That's significant. We're real excited to be able to provide the facilities without having to hit our taxpayers with an additional burden.
"It was hard for me to believe that, too, but our bond counsel insists it's true and has showed how it can be done," said White.
Of concern from some in attendance was the lack of information concerning the future plans. That was one reason the informative meetings were conducted.
"There was concern addressed from people who didn't know what was going on," he said. "I'm concerned that we aren't getting the word out. We've got to figure a way to get the information to the people who don't get the paper.
"If we can't get them here (to the meetings), we've got to find some way to get them the information," said White. "We need to be out there sharing information. We want people to be involved with what is going on. We want their input on how they feel the district should proceed."